State Authorizes Elimination of Montana Wolf Pack

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – State wildlife officials have authorized the killing of the remaining members of the Mitchell Mountain wolf pack after a fourth guard dog was killed on private land north of Helena.

Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the agency authorized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services last week to kill the wolves.

“It’s always unfortunate when people lose animals to wolves,” Sime said Monday. “And it’s always unfortunate when wolves have to be killed.”

The wolves killed a guard dog in June 2008; a domestic goat in October 2008; a domestic goat and guard dog last March; and other guard dogs on Nov. 2 and Nov. 30.

Two of the wolves were killed after the March deaths. Then, after the guard dog’s death on Nov. 2, FWP authorized the removal of three more members of the pack, thought to total between five and seven wolves.

However, after two more wolves were killed, another guard dog was killed, which led to the decision to remove the entire pack.

“Elimination of this pack won’t leave this area wolf-free. Sooner or later, there will be wolves back,” Sime said.

Studies show that when entire packs are eliminated, the area is usually recolonized by wolves within a year, she said.

The state Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Program compensates ranchers for the loss of livestock and guard animals.

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